Street Photography Tips

Street Photography Tips

Street photography is, hands down, one of the most challenging genres of photography. It involves a lot of elements that might force people to get out of their comfort zone. If you want to create truly good images, you need to be ready to put in quite a lot of hard work. Documenting daily life is no easy task. Sometimes you’ll need to react quickly as you’ll have mere seconds to capture a great moment that tells a story. But other times you’ll need to be patient and wait for the right time to snap your shot.

It is true that in street photography you can kind of choose how much discomfort you are willing to tolerate. For instance, if you don’t want to get into people’s space too much, you don’t really have to. You don’t necessarily need to photograph people at all, for that matter. However, you won’t really grow and get better at your craft by staying within the boundaries of your comfort zone, will you?

Street photography requires patience, hard work, persistence, and also…luck.

Maybe you’ve already got the chance to experience this. That moment when the light is spectacular, the spot you’re at is absolutely perfect, your camera is in your hand and then you see your subject – some kind of an interesting character. All of these elements have come together and created this beautiful scene, and you happen to snap this shot at the exactly right moment. It feels kind of like magic.

This is why street photography can be so rewarding despite all the challenges that it presents. If you are passionate about photography and maybe even considering starting a photography business one day, this is surely a genre that you should give a try. It can teach you a lot as a photographer and as a person.

In this article you will find some useful and practical street photography tips that will help you along your journey of becoming a better street photographer. You will also learn how to quickly prep your images for social media to share your beautiful works online easily.


Essential Street Photography Tips

Here are some incredibly useful and practical street photography tips for everyone who wants to start creating better and more meaningful photos.

Practice observation

This is probably one of the most powerful street photography tips…and you won’t even need your camera for this. To get stronger and build muscle, you need to train regularly. Similarly, the only way to hone a skill and make it second nature is to practice it as often as you can. And it doesn’t mean that you need to go out with your camera every day – although this will definitely speed up your progress. In street photography you need great observation skills – you have to notice what most people don’t.

Fortunately, you can practice observing your surroundings and noticing potentially good shots even when you don’t have a camera with you. So, go for a walk and be present, get out of your head and pay attention to what is happening around you. Look out for good light, captivating backgrounds, interesting characters or peculiar details.

street photography tips

Maybe there are two friends sitting on a bench and having a lively chat or a frustrated driver stuck in a traffic jam. Make note of fascinating spots – you might get back there later with your camera. You can also use your smartphone to take pictures. You might get a surprisingly good shot on your smartphone camera; yes, even if you don’t have an iPhone.


Keep your camera ready

Naturally, once you learn to notice potentially good shots, you also need to be able to capture them. And for that you need to know your camera really well.

Street photography is the kind of genre where you need to react to things pretty quickly.

And sometimes that means that you need to change the settings in split seconds. Let’s say that you noticed a man standing in front of a beautiful building and the light is spectacular. The man’s facial expression is quite pensive, he’s staring at his smartphone. It seems that all the elements have aligned for a good shot…But then you fumble with your camera and try to adjust the settings correctly. And just when you are ready to take the shot, the man leaves. Yep, you missed your chance.

When you’re out on the streets it’s highly important to keep your camera ready and know it really well. So, put your camera on a strap and wear it on your body. You need to be able to grab it as soon as you see a potentially good shot.

street photography ideas

Also, before getting out there, spend some time learning about your camera, what it can and cannot do. Practice changing the settings quite quickly.

Here’s a street photography tip that can help you out: shoot in aperture priority mode.

This way, you will need to set only the aperture, while your camera will take care of the shutter speed and ISO. If you are worried about accidentally getting blurry and noisy shots, most digital cameras allow you to set a limit for ISO and shutter speed in the camera settings. In other words, when you are shooting in aperture priority, the camera won’t set ISO or shutter speed above the limit.


Don’t limit yourself

People often think that to get started they need to find some beautiful and breathtaking location. They need to be in a big city to create incredible shots. And there’s some truth to that.

A big city is perfect for street photography because there’s always so much going on.

A big city has a lot of streets and different areas. It seems like there are always new places and corners that you haven’t explored yet; even if you’ve walked dozens of kilometers of this very city before. A big city is truly an exciting playground for a street photographer, there’s no doubt about that.

However, what if you live and work in a small town? Maybe a big city is not that far away, and yeah, you can go there, but only at the weekend. Maybe you think that your small town doesn’t have anything interesting to offer. It’s not exactly picturesque. There are barely any beautiful places…

street photography ideas

But if you want to get better at street photography, you need to practice as often as you can.

So, one of the street photography tips for you is this: don’t limit yourself to big cities.

In fact, challenge yourself to go out and take pictures in your small town. Try to find something beautiful and look out for interesting scenes. Try to find beauty in something that you consider ordinary and boring. You might actually be surprised. If you still struggle with this, maybe go to a small town nearby. The key point here is don’t limit yourself. Don’t think that you need to go to a spectacular location to get good shots.


You don’t need to get too close

If you are just starting out and you’re a bit of an introvert, here’s a street photography tip for you. You don’t need to get to close to your subject. Generally speaking, you don’t really need to take pictures of people for that matter. You can add a human element by photographing just a shadow cast by a person, for instance.

If, however, you do want to incorporate people into your images, yet you’re too nervous about intruding into their personal space, you can take pictures of people from a distance. For example, you can stand on the other side of the street. It’s okay if, say, a building is taking up more than half of the frame. This is especially great in a big city. You can create this fascinating juxtaposition between a huge metropolis and tiny, ant-like people in it.

tips for street photography

There’s something else that you can try – take pictures of people from the back or maybe when all of their attention is focused on the screen of their smartphone. This way you won’t have to worry about anyone noticing you. Plus, your subject will stay anonymous which can work quite well for your photography.

If you want to try shooting from behind, look out for subjects that have eye-catching clothes or hats – there has to be something that makes them stand out from the crowd. If you like the strong contrast between light and shadows, you can try capturing silhouettes against brightly lit backgrounds or hide the face of your subject with a shadow.


Remember to be patient

Sometimes you need to be quick to capture a great moment as it is unfolding. But there are other times when you need to wait for the moment to come to you; so to speak. Let’s say, you see peculiar background. Maybe it’s a wall and there are some interesting shadows on it along with beautiful splashes of light. But right now this scene feels a bit lifeless. You need a human element. So, you take out your camera, frame your shot and wait for the right subject; and that doesn’t mean taking a picture of the very first person to walk by.

street photography tips and tricks

A key to a good photo is for all elements to work well together. Thus, you need a subject that matches the rest of the scene. For instance, if there’s a light blue wall, ideally, you’ll need to wait for someone who is wearing dark blue clothes – for the monochrome color scheme – or yellow clothes – for the complimentary color scheme. By utilizing colors, you’ll get a much more visually appealing image. As you can imagine, you might need to wait a bit for the right subject. So, be patient.


Be curious and experiment

In street photography you need to be able to see something that others don’t. You can’t control the scene or the spontaneity of life. You can only control what you see, how you frame your shot and what you want to show to your audience.

Here’s probably one of the most important street photography tips – allow yourself to experiment.

If you ever find yourself in doubt whether it’s worth taking a shot or not, take it. Maybe it won’t fit into your portfolio. Maybe you won’t post it on social media. But it’s still better to take a shot than not to take it. Because if you don’t get a shot, but regret it later, there’s nothing you can do about it. Whereas, if you take a shot and realize that you don’t like it, you can simply delete it.

street photography tips for beginners

Street photography is a great way to learn something about yourself. Be curious about what interests you, what you find beautiful, what you respond to. If you’ve ever gone out for a shoot with another street photographer, you know that you can be in one and the same spot, but both of you will notice totally different things. If you take pictures of pretty much everything that interests you, you can analyze it later. Ask yourself: “Why did I like this? What made me want to take this shot?”

Knowing what you like and knowing yourself will make you a better photographer. This is especially vital if you want to find your style in photography.


It’s okay to fail

Learning something always involves trial and error. There’s always a chance that you go out for a walk with your camera…and find nothing. There’s no good light, no interesting scenes, no fascinating subjects. Maybe you see a great shot, but you miss it because your camera is in your backpack, or you just wasn’t quick enough. Maybe you see something interesting but can’t frame your shot well.

Sometimes you’ll return with no good or even decent shots. And that’s okay. Not all days are going to be good days. Don’t beat yourself up just yet. Maybe, the next time you go out and shoot, you’ll end up getting a ton of amazing masterpieces.

tips for street photography

Remember, you can always do better next time. What you need to focus on is that failure can teach you something. It’s all about the perspective. If you see things only in a negative way, if you only want to criticize yourself, you won’t be able to learn. If you don’t learn, you won’t get better.

Bonus street photography tip! Get yourself a pair of good, comfortable shoes. If you want to do street photography, you’ll need to walk a LOT. And you need to be comfortable while doing so. Otherwise, you’ll get tired and want to go home pretty quickly, and… miss some potentially great shots.


Street Photography Tips: Editing

What each street photographer should be able to do is know how to crop images. Cropping can be an incredibly handy tool due to the spontaneity and fast-paced nature of street photography. Sometimes, everything happens so fast that you have no other choice but to take a shot regardless without paying much attention to the composition. Naturally, the more you practice and hone your compositional skills, the quicker you’ll be able to compose your shots in camera correctly. But even those who have been doing street photography for years make compositional mistakes every now and then.

It’s perfectly okay to crop photos to improve their composition and put all the attention on the key elements. And don’t worry about the quality, especially if you want to post your images on social media. For instance, Instagram’s Portrait Post must be 1080x1350px. And most good digital cameras produce images of around 4000x6000px. So you can crop by a lot and still get a good-looking photo!

Visual Watermark creator can be of immense help to street photographers, who share their works online. It’s not uncommon for people to steal photos and pass them as their own. If you wish to avoid this, you can protect your photography works by adding a logo watermark. Visual Watermark also allows you to add some text to an image. If you add your social media handle or website address, you will make sure that new followers and potential clients will always be able to find you no matter where they see your masterpieces. It’s really quick and easy – much quicker and more convenient than watermarking photos in Photoshop!

If you want to publish your photography works on a website, you’ll need to optimize them first. Digital cameras produces images of high resolution and excellent quality which usually results in photos having a relatively large file size. That’s a no-no when it comes to websites, because a large-sized image will take an eternity to load on a webpage. By compressing an image you can reduce its file size quite dramatically. Visual Watermark has an online tool for this. It’ll process a large batch of photos in a matter of minutes!

Finally, street photography is about capturing daily life, so, most street photographers prefer to show the faces of strangers in their photos. But if you want to protect someone’s identity or comply with specific laws regarding personal data in your country, you can blur part of an image with our online tool. It detects faces and license plates automatically, so you can process multiple photos in one go.


To sum up

Remember that there’s a lot of room for experimentation in street photography. And that’s the beauty of it.

Learn various compositional techniques, learn your camera and know all the necessary settings. But at the same time, when you are out and about on the streets, allow yourself to just… document life. Learn to observe, train your eye to see what others don’t. Be in the moment and keep your camera ready. Explore what you like and what you don’t, but at the same time, try not to limit yourself.

To get creative means to experiment and have fun. If you really want to get good at street photography, you need to be curious about people, life and different places. This genre can teach you a lot and vastly improve your set of photographic skills. Hopefully, the street photography tips in this article inspired you and that you’ll try to apply them the next time you’ll go out shooting.